Tag Archives: Study

No Way Out

Excuse me, how do I leave?

You can exit through the middle barrier.

Yeah, but, how do I leave?

It’s okay, you don’t need to swipe, you can just walk right through and the barrier opens automatically.

Yes, but, like, how do I leave? Where do I come out at?

What do you mean?

You know, when I walk through the barrier, how do I get out? How do I exit the building?

In hindsight, the question I should have asked was: How did you get in here in the first place?

I mean, really. Even if you’re having a really, really, *REALLY* bad day; surely the floor-to-ceiling windows offering a stunning view of the Square (i.e. the outside) serve as a slight clue. Perhaps the stairs down to the floor below could be a starting point? Try thinking about it logically maybe? You know, common sense? Sigh.

Sadly, that’s precisely the problem- not thinking.

Much debate (and ranting from me) has ensued this week about the noticeable shortcomings of some of the new crop of students. Unfortunately, a (thankfully, minority) proportion of them appear incapable of thinking for themselves.

Of course, everyone needs a little help sometimes; and that’s what we’re here for- to help.

We enjoy helping. It’s a wonderful experience to offer assistance, impart knowledge, or offer an understanding ear to somebody; and then to watch them grow in confidence as a result. And, quite understandably, certain students (e.g. from overseas, or new to higher education) take a little longer to adjust to our academic surroundings.

But too many of our newbies are, well, frankly (I hate to say it) lazy. They’re increasingly reluctant to listen to advice, they walk away before you can give them the information they need, have no patience whatsoever for anything more than a soundbite inquiry and, perhaps most disappointingly, have little regard for the need to learn how to learn. Many of them seem so used to being spoon-fed their education, that they don’t see the need/importance/necessity of learning how to use the Library, explore resources or work independently. They apparently think we are an extension of the support services, here to do everything for them. Is the new culture of increasing fees is, in turn, fuelling the notion that students expect to be given their degrees?

Is education fast becoming an economic exchange?

If you think this is just the bitter Friday ramblings of someone tired and emotional (cough) I offer this example:

As well as working, I study part-time, and have recently begun my academic year. Over the last two weeks, I have been shocked by the complete inability of some of my classmates to think for themselves. I’ve lost count of how many minutes have been wasted by inane discussions about which items are core texts, which are background, how this tutor did it like this, and how it’s not clear where we download this week’s reading from, etc.

At one point this week, several classmates freaked out when they realised the lecturer’s bullet points were different to those on our handouts. It didn’t occur to them to just make a few more extended notes. No. They interrupted him to complain/point out the error, then wasted 5 minutes discussing the point.

Astonishing.

I’m not the world’s best student. I’m not the world’s best Library worker. Sometimes I’m lazy. Sometimes I do dumb things. I have a memory like a sieve. I ask really stupid questions. Everyone does, from time to time.

But it seems independent thought and effort are fast becoming disposable commodities; much to the detriment of my desk-side manner.

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Monkey Doodle Handy

What do you people want, blood?

Perhaps a slight overreaction, but, honestly, 23 Things Makers: what came over you?

I started reading Thing 13, then I scrolled a bit, read some more, scroll, read, scroll, read, scroll, read, scroll OMG! Will it never end! I mean, War and Peace anyone?!

This hysterical preamble is my way of building the case for the defense. My defense. For not doing all the tasks.

[Gasp]

I know. (Bows head in shame)

I’ve not been well. (Shakes head)

I tried, I really did! (Pleads with hands)

I just couldn’t handle the pressure. I beg of you, have mercy!

[Exit, pursued by angry Librarian]

I also became wrapped up in Prezis, and got slightly carried away with concocting silly questions, resulting in a substantial time-deficit; but that’s beside the point…

Anyway, here’s my Prezi.

Prezi is an excellent presentation tool. I’d never used it before [insert your own jokes about my Prezi here]; in fact, I didn’t know it existed until I came to City. It’s pitched as a user-friendly and more exciting alternative to PowerPoint, and in many ways this is a fair comparison. From what I’ve seen so far, Prezi feels like the dress-down Friday version of PowerPoint: more creative, accessible and fun to use, but no less credible in terms of its content provision. Additionally, the functionality and interactivity of Prezi make it ideally suited for collaborative work.

However, I wouldn’t write off PowerPoint just yet.

I’d be less keen as a presentationee (?), particularly in a classroom setting- where the emphasis is on absorbing complex topics- to be on the receiving end of a full-on Prezi, with it’s potentially disorientating effects and open-ended layout options. There’s something to be said for a simple, clear slideshow, backing up an engaging tutor. There are also a few technical drawbacks with Prezi, but from what I’ve been reading, these are being continually ironed out and the technology updated; so hopefully Prezi will become even more dynamic in the future.

As dedicated readers of this blog (and those of you kind/foolish enough to follow me on Twitter may be aware), I registered with Survey Monkey and went and did one. A big thank you to everyone who tackled the Questions That Need Asking, and for the positive feedback. Obviously, I’ve shown a complete disregard for the methodology of survey construction; but it’s my survey, and I’ll make it trashy if I want to.

I’ve had a lot of fun with Survey Monkey. After all the hoopla of Prezi, and the wowness of Web 2.0 in general, it was hysterically refreshing to be using a programme with Windows ’95 stylings. I suddenly became nostalgic for Microsoft Works, dial-up and Joanna Lumley; though not for my inkjet printer, which promised 3 pages per minute, but actually took 3 minutes per page.

Fist-gnawingly slow.

Survey Monkey might be a little clunky and lacking in finesse, but it does its job and sometimes that’s what’s important. The survey is open until Friday, and the official results will be revealed asap!

I’ve had some recent experience with Doodle, though in a slightly different context. This year, my university department decided to employ Doodle as the mechanism for selecting module options for the forthcoming academic year. From what I can gather, I don’t think this has proved a resounding success, possibly more as a result of poor planning and administration, rather than the merits of Doodle itself.

And I think this is a key point: It’s all very well having Web 2.0 tools at our disposal, but it’s the co-ordination and implementation which has as much to do with a project’s success or failure, as opposed to just the technology. Personally, I think a downloadable pdf or simple online form would have sufficed, but what do I know?

Doodle has a great name, an appealing concept, and is definitely worth further investigation from now on.

I have registered with Remember The Milk, and have invited a poor unsuspecting colleague to join me.

I don’t like the fact that I couldn’t just send my task to someone without forcing them to register- after all, I could have just emailed them anyway- what exactly is the USP here? Clearly I’m missing something. Maybe I should have used Doodle to schedule a chat about RTM? But how would I have remembered to use Doodle in the first place? I can’t even remember what I went upstairs for. If only there was a tool to help me organise my life, and overcome these increasing memory lapses?

What was the last Cool Thing? Oh, yeah, Google Docs.

Erm, right. Google Docs is a search engine designed to help you locate your nearest certified medical practitioner. It’s great. Amazing in fact. Everyone should use it.

Cool.

# Apologies for the lack of embedded content. I tried to embed my Prezi, but 2 hours of trying to grasp gigya codes (disappointingly, nothing to do with Quagmire) and such nonsense defeated me. It’s Sunday, I’ve already missed the Grand Prix (go Hamilton!) and don’t intend missing lunch.

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Must. Kill. Bears.

It’s terribly upsetting to discover that icons of your childhood have fallen on hard times.

Sadly, it seems that the once kind-hearted inhabitants of Care-A-Lot, the Care Bears, have abandoned their mission of trying to bring joy and harmony to the World, in favour of violent organised crime. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the collapse of their Unity Government (the Care Bear Cousins withdrew from the coalition), coupled with the Kingdom of Caring’s economic instability in light of the global financial crisis, resulted in irrevocable social breakdown. And now, the Bears have embarked on a savage, gun-toting rampage though the streets. They represent a clear and present danger. They must be stopped. At all costs. And this time, it’s personal.

No, I’m not mad; though it seems contributors to iGoogle’s supply of gadgets are completely bonkers. (Warning- this link to Evil Care Bears does contain bad language, and may result in the gratuitous exploitation of cartoons)

Not only can I open fire on 1980s children’s television characters (today I wantonly butchered 29 bears; less Care-A-Lot, more Kill-A-Lot), I can also receive daily photos of Ashley Judd, and subscribe to The Kitten Daily. Or was it Kitten of the Day? Day of the Kittens maybe? Anyway, the point is, how mental is iGoogle?  

To be honest, I can’t really see the point of it- from my perspective, having everything on one page, through one provider is, well, boring.

Not having a smartphone, I’m guessing that iGoogle’s functionality mirrors the way in which users engage with Apps, and this seems to make more sense in a mobile context. Whilst I did enjoy selecting the Garfield background, and personalising my gadgets, the novelty of it all wore off quite quickly.

However, my judgement may be a little clouded, given that I recently sat through an 11 week module taught by a pro-everything-online zealot, who banged-on incessantly about ‘Freemium’, ‘Citizen Journalism’ & Jeff Jarvis; as a result, my instant adverse reaction to iGoogle was:

Is there anything Google won’t do?

I genuinely have some reservations about Google, whose motto: ‘Dont’ be Evil’, has morphed into: ‘Do be Everywhere’ & Everything’. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of Google running my life and knowing even more about my personal information portfolio. I’ve also taken an extreme disliking to the new Google search facility, with its suggested answers and awkward, arrow-button-hating scrolling style. 

Which is why my head dropped when I saw we were looking at Google Reader. I haven’t used my account properly for months, and at one point actually cancelled my original Google registration. Essentially I’m an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy, who prefers plodding my way through the Internet of 2011 like a 19th century Hansom Cab:

Slowly. Messily. Bumpily.

Except that, reading through Upgrade (and an excellent blog post) I began re-considering the use of the reader and feeds, and then suddenly remembered an epiphany I had a few months back. I’ve always thought that using RSS and aggregators was the preserve of professional people who need to track vast amounts of information and data.

But I’ve come to realise two things:

  1. That’s now me. I’m an Information Professional.
  2. That’s also me. I’m a part-time student.

The fact is, Google Reader could prove to be an invaluable resource for content gathering and storage; and the idea of being able to collate literature searches has opened my eyes to new possibilities for research.

I’m always going to feel uncomfortable with the current (and possibly irreversible) trend towards an information culture based around passive receivership- expecting everything to be done for us. I feel lazy enough as it is at times, and am desperately trying to proactively engage my brain, in a vain attempt to counter a rapidly decreasing attention span. But I suspect I’m going to need all the help I can get over the next three years, and Google Reader + RSS + [insert academic support tool here] might just be the way forwards.

*For legal reasons, I should clarify that in no way have the Care Bears ever been associated with any form of illegal/criminal activity, nor are they homicidal maniacs. Wish Bear has not changed his name to Death-Wish Bear. I have not committed Bearicide.

**Since writing the bulk of this posting, I’ve gone back to Google Reader and subscribed to all the marvellous 23 Things City blogs & Twitter feeds. One small step etc…

***I’ve decided to hang onto iGoogle. Just in case…

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